Michael Justin Lee
Michael Justin Lee

The recent gift of China’s richest man Li Ka-shing to Israel’s leading engineering university, the Technion, is not really coming as a surprise, argues Michael Justin Lee in the Washington Times. “To say that China respects Israel would be a tremendous understatement.”

Michael Justin Lee:

In general, the history of the Jews in China is both long and friendly. When Marco Polo “discovered” China, he found that the Jews were already very well established there and quite prosperous. Even earlier, in the ancient Chinese capital of Kaifeng, Jews had built a synagogue and a kosher butchering facility. In the 20th century, China proved to be a hospitable sanctuary for Jewish people escaping the Russian Revolution and the Holocaust.

We even have a Chinese Oskar Schindler in Dr. Ho Feng-Shan, China’s consul-general in Vienna, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews. In consideration of the centuries of peaceful contact between the two peoples, China can arguably be called the most hospitable country to the Jewish people. (Arguably, I said.)

Last semester, I had the pleasure of hosting a visiting professor from Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics to exchange ideas about the teaching of international finance. In the course of casual conversation, I learned that all over Chinese academia these days, there is a veritable explosion of interest in the Jewish people, Judaism and Israel. Mr. Li’s gift merely epitomizes this interest.

To say that China respects Israel would be a tremendous understatement. In fact, China greatly admires both the nation and State of Israel in many important areas with the notable exception of cuisine, in which case the admiration goes demonstrably the other way. If you doubt this, just think about the number of Jewish delis you’ve ever seen in any of the Chinatowns of the world. Now consider the number of Chinese restaurants in any Jewish neighborhood. I rest my case.=

More in the Washington Times.

Michael Justin Lee is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at our meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

China Weekly Hangout

What can China learn from Singapore on sustainability? Join the +China Weekly Hangout  where Shanghai-based sustainability expert +Richard Brubaker   will share his recent experiences in Singapore on Thursday 10 October. You can read our initial announcement here, or register for participation here. Moderation by +Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.

Steve Barru, Miguel de Vinchi and Fons Tuinstra wrapped up on October 3 at the China Weekly Hangout the news on Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone, and end in a not-so positive mood about what this new zone is actually going to do.

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